Redeemer’s Re-gathering Team has been meeting weekly since early June and participating in Diocesan Zoom webinars to digest and integrate the Bishops’ Journey by Stages guide and its corresponding checklists for safe use of our church building and to adopt the processes for re-opening the building for worship.
As shared in the opening letter of the recent parish survey and by Kate and members of the Re-gathering Team, the Diocesan guidelines are stricter than the ones established by Governor Baker for Massachusetts’ and specifically for houses of worship. We are working with an assigned “Re-gathering Shepherd” from the diocese with each phase of building use.
Our first order of business was to develop the survey that was sent out a few weeks ago and made available online. We’re wrapping up similar conversations with staff and clergy related to accessing the building for work, working remotely, pastoral care, and leading worship. Your feedback has been very helpful and is directly informing our work. Thank you.
Even when we are able to open the building for in-person worship, the restrictions on the number of people who will be able to attend will continue for some time and the risk for some members of our community to attend in person may still be high. Therefore we are working to upgrade the technology to continue to provide online worship with better audio quality and video capability. The upgraded technology and assistance from an A/V team will also allow for remote functionality. We are at the research stage of configuring and pricing the upgraded camera, microphones, and controls.
Fortunately, hunger relief was deemed essential business by Governor Baker and wholly supported by our diocesan leadership so the Lexington Food Pantry has been using the building regularly with ten volunteers since the pandemic shutdown. In the past month, volunteers from LexEat are accessing the building on a weekly basis to prepare sandwiches for Community Day Center in Waltham. Both groups are following strict cleaning and access protocols and use the building at different times. We are discussing and working on ways to safely give community groups that use our building – like AA and the Widows Group – access as well.
Much of our time in late-June was dedicated to working with one of our critical renters and community partners, Lexington Playcare Center, so that it could re-open as soon as possible under their state and federal-mandated guidelines. We’ve developed a Memorandum of Understanding for the areas of the building and grounds where LPC and Redeemer overlap. With our Bishop’s approval, LPC re-opened July 6.
The Diocesan guidelines are multi-layered and contextual and the Zoom webinars available to us have been very informative but often lead to additional questions. Fortunately, we have a variety of expertise on the Re-Gathering Team, responsive resources from the Diocese, and a supportive Vestry and other church committees that are providing guidance as well.
We look forward to sharing more about this process later this month at the coffee hour on Sunday, July 26. We’ll provide details about those pesky checklists and requirements and answer any questions you may have. It is a gradual and deliberate process and we appreciate your support, prayers and patience.
The Re-gathering Team:
Erica Brotschi MD
Rev. Kate Ekrem
Rev. Andrew Goldhor